Jesse Belvin Biography

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15 December 1932, San Antonio, Texas, USA, d. 6 February 1960, Fairhope, Arkansas, USA. Raised in Los Angeles, Belvin became a part of the city’s flourishing R&B scene while in his teens. As a member of vocal quartet Three Dots And A Dash he was featured on ‘All The Wine Is Gone’, a 1950 single by jazz saxophonist Big Jay McNeely. Belvin also recorded with fellow songwriter Marvin Phillips as Jesse & Marvin, achieving a Top 5 R&B hit in 1953 with ‘Dream Girl’. His career was then interrupted by a spell in the US Army. ‘Earth Angel’, a collaboration with two fellow conscripts, was recorded successfully by the Penguins.

After leaving the armed forces, Belvin signed a new contract with Modern Records and enjoyed a major R&B hit in his own right in 1956 with ‘Goodnight My Love (Pleasant Dreams)’, a haunting, romantic ballad adopted by disc jockey Alan Freed as the closing theme to his highly influential radio show. In 1958 Belvin formed part of the opportunistic vocal quintet, the Shields, who recorded the national Top 20 hit ‘You Cheated’ for Dot Records. That same year the singer was signed to RCA Records, who harboured plans to shape him in the mould of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Billy Eckstine, a fact reflected in his nickname ‘Mr. Easy’. Further R&B hits, including ‘Funny’ and the Top 10 single ‘Guess Who’ - the latter of which was written by his wife and manager Jo Ann - offered a cool, accomplished vocal style suggestive of a lengthy career, but Belvin died, along with his wife, following a car crash in February 1960.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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